"Say my name!"
I remember situations where I have sort of given away things for free that I could have taken credit for. I didn't want credit for them, so I thought I didn't care about the credit. But then someone else took credit for it, and it bothered me. I was puzzled why I was bothered by it, since I didn't even want the credit. And if I really didn't care about it, it shouldn't matter to me if someone else took the credit.
I thought about it and realized something embarassing. When someone else took the credit, they also took away the potential extra credit I could have been given in the future for being this cool guy who had something valueable to give, but who didn't even want credit for it. I wasn't even aware of this myself, but it was signal burying. Since then, I have always thought twice before saying or doing things I don't want to take credit for, just to know that I do it for the right reasons.
We would all learn more about complexity and collaboration if the joke writers were in the footnotes.
An interesting point and one I hadn’t thought about. An initial idea: there seems to be a distinction between the reaction of the uncredited author of the work/idea/ip and the audience. Arguably the author has more than just lying to be upset about since they lose out on the public recognition for their work. The audience feels lied to the real author feels cheated out of recognition.
A nice example of doing things the right way seems to be the introduction to "The Real Frank Zappa Book" :
I don't want to write a book, but I'm going to do it anyway, because Peter Occhiogrosso is going to help me. He is a writer. He likes books -- he even reads them. I think it is good that books still exist, but they make me sleepy.
The way we're going to do it is, Peter will come to California and spend a few weeks recording answers to 'fascinating questions,' then the tapes will be transcribed. Peter will edit them, put them on floppy discs, send them back to me, I will edit them again, and that result will be sent to Ann Patty at Poseidon Press, and she will make it come out to be 'A BOOK.'
Aka The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The truth in the Key & Peele sketch is one of short-term or long-term gain, and our difficulty in seeing the bigger picture.
Jackson's immediate response is that it's not fair Morrison gets the applause of the group. It becomes more severe when that becomes the applause of authority, then of someone Jackson really admires. That hurts on a visceral, emotional level. And we feel the sting of that unfairness.
Morrison gains opportunities from Jackson's work. He meets people, gets to learn from a privileged position. That could turn Jackson's initial frustration into something like hatred. But how does he respond to that emotional response? Morrison didn't come up with the quip. He doesn't have the talent or skill. And Jackson knows that. All of Morrison's opportunities (in reality) could be wasted. He'd be found out; revealed as a fraud when he can't come up with more material. He'd be written off as a chancer who got lucky once (also see Bart Simpson as The I Didn't Do It Boy). If he's smart, he could find a way to still take advantage of those opportunities. If he's not, he'll end up middle-aged and living off past glories. Recounting the time he met the president, but hasn't achieved anything since.
Jackson, on the other hand, would likely be able to come up with more quips. He could work at his quip-making. He might study others, work hard and eventually gain his own opportunities. His life may not reach the heights of the Congressional Comedy Medal of Honour, but his career will likely be more sustainable. He might still look back with bitterness at the opportunities he could have enjoyed. Writers, however, usually have longer, more varied careers than performers, and certainly longer than one-hit-wonders.
Would we choose the one-time high or the longer-term satisfaction? What would make for the better life? Jackson may never get over that moment in class, but it might teach him some valuable lessons. It could motivate him, and make him more successful than he would otherwise have been.
When the president of a college signs a letter or email, s|he isn’t implying “these are my words”, but rather something like “this is the college’s position and I’ll stand over it”. The audience at a comedy show tacitly agrees that we don’t necessarily care who wrote the jokes. What mainly interests us is how the comedian delivers them — and whether they’re funny or not. So in neither case is there a misappropriation of credit.
I really enjoyed reading this post. Well thought-out, entertaining, and a nice tie in with Sandel’s writing. I’d much rather be here reading things like this, than doomscrolling on not Twitter.